The Damned continue to “Smash It Up” on latest, in a long long line of live releases.
“We are The Damned, and we sound a little bit like this” announces vocalist Dave Vanian at the beginning of the latest live installment of The Damned’s storied near 40-year career. The “this” to which Vanian refers is the classic “Wait For The Blackout”, a track that first appeared in 1982 as a single and is an example of what makes The Damned, one of the greatest punk bands of all time.
The mid-late 1970’s were awash with punk. Some of it bad, some of it good and very occasionally some of it absolutely mind blowing and life affirming. The Damned were very much front runners in the movement but managed to keep an identity and style of their own which many of imitated but never equalled Unlike their peers Sex Pistols, who made one great album and then promptly destroyed themselves, the Damned have a legacy that stretches through all the decades since punk’s inception. Classic album status has been achieved on more than one occasion with their debut Damned Damned Damned, merely the catalyst for what was to come. Machine Gun Etiquette, Music For Pleasure, The Black Album and Strawberries to name just the first few have been rotation regulars for any self-respecting punk or rocker.
The absolute classics such as “New Rose”, “Fish”, “Neat Neat Neat”, “Love Song”, “Smash It Up “ etc…. It’s only the limited amount of tracks that you can fit on one cd/vinyl that makes it end. Whilst your finger may automatically skip to one of the aforementioned classics you would be well advised to just play the whole thing from start to finish and enjoy the aural experience of The Damned live in one ferocious sitting.
It’s quite a sitting as well as there are 22 tracks to cover but as Vanian states “prog rock it isn’t”. There is plenty of between song banter and general gibberish to keep the spirits high. The production quality is sound and crystal clear, unlike many live albums of their ilk. It’s still dirty enough on occasions to capture the delightfully deviant nature of the band.
More recent tracks like the brilliant “Perfect Sunday” or “Thrill Kill” show how the band have lost none of their cutting edge. They are formidable tracks that stand toe to toe with the back catalogue and are made for the live environment. Being “the heaviest song we’ve ever done” it’s no surprise that “Thrill Kill” thunders along with its distorted electronic energy.
“Captain Sensible’s Medley Jam” is three minutes of nonsense and rambling’s which add nothing to the album other than to demonstrate the general state of musical intoxication . If you are The Damned you can do this sort of thing and get away with it. But only just. So when “Smash It Up” completes the album you are left with a sense of thrilling nostalgia mixed with the relief that its over and you’ve somehow survived intact. Ready to go again.
Donnie’s Rating: 8/10